Discovery of Buddhist stupa may turn remote hamlet into tourist hotspot

Newindpress, May 19 2005

KENDRAPARA, India -- Despite being an archaeological hotspot, Langudi wears the tag of obscurity. Located in Dharmasala tehsil 40 km from here, it is a sleepy hamlet with a sparse population. But all this could change thanks to the rich archaelogical haul made recently which included a Buddhist stupa and several images of the Lord in various postures.

Langudi hit the headlines eight years ago with several senior historians and archaeologists terming it the `Puspagiri' as it was described by the famous Chinese traveler Huein Tsang (Xuan zhang).

But few tourists have since ventured into this remote hamlet. Now, however, archaeologists feel the Buddhist site in Langudi Hill can turn this area into a full-fledged tourist destination.

Debendra Pradhan, senior archaeologist and secretary of the Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies (OIMSEAS) Director of the South East Asian Maritime History of the State said many newly discovered Buddhist sites in the Dharmasala area were conclusive proof of the existence of a thriving Buddhist civilisation.

The State Government has already begun developing the site by constructing roads and other facilities essential to promote tourism. Recently the central government sought about Rs 500 crores as aid from the Japanese Government for the promotion and maintenance of Buddhist sites in Orissa, says Pradhan.

The discovery of Buddhist caves at Neulipur village and Langudi Hill could well turn out to be a major tourist attraction. The Langudi caves face south and are cut out of Khondalite stones. While most of the caves at Neulpur are rectangular, a few are square. Some Buddhist caves have also been discovered at Bajragiri, Kaema, Deuli, Sarapur and Paikrapur.

A large number of domestic and overseas tourists visit only Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri. They rarely visit the other famous Buddhist sites, points out Pradhan. The Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies has been unearthing Buddhist sites in Kaima, Deuli, Tarapur, and Radhanagar over the last year.

An ancient fort was recently unearthed in Radhanagar which resembles the one at Sisupalagarh near Bhubenswar, says Pradhan. The fortress was razed during King Ashok's Kalinga invasion, and was probably used as a military camp. Some scholars have identified Dantapur, the then capital of Kalinga as Radhanagar. But Pradhan is skeptical. He terms these areas as treasure houses of history that are waiting to be discovered. ``Recently we sought the help of the Epigraphical Society of India in Mysore to decipher many inscriptions carved on some of the images and stones which were unearthed in several places,'' says Pradhan.